TACOMA - After Blaine sprinter Cherish Morrison won the 400 - her third individual gold medal Saturday, May 26 - she was able to confirm that she never lost a step.
"I feel like I'm back," said Morrison after she won the 400 in a record-breaking time of 56.09 seconds. "When I didn't win the 100 (last year), I felt like I lost it a little bit."
There was no doubting Morrison's dominance during the 2A-3A-4A Washington State Track and Field Championships Saturday, May 26, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Morrison won the 100 with a time of 12.36, and she won the 200 in a time of 24.92 before winning the 400. And if that wasn't enough gold already, Morrison furnished her track and field career by helping Blaine's 4x400 relay team earn a state title with a new 2A meet record of 3:56.59.
The first-place medals added up to 11 individual gold medals and 14 overall during Morrison's brilliant Blaine career.
Blaine coach Mike Grambo said he believed it was a state record.
"It's like; I don't know what to say. It's just something that is very special. It's been great to see her grow not only as an athlete but as a person as well."
Blaine sprints coach Jim Rasar said it has been an honor to coach Morrison during her career.
"It's been a privilege to coach her more than anything," Rasar said. "The last four years, she has put the program in the spotlight."
Morrison's three solo wins and one team win counted for 40 of Blaine's 52 team points, which helped the Borderites earn a fifth place overall finish.
The Blaine standout said she is a superstitious person, and she said early in the day she received a premonition that Saturday may be her day.
"I won a big prize from the Brooks truck earlier today, and I thought it meant I'd have good luck," said Morrison, referring to a Brooks' running shoes truck that was handing out prizes during the three-day meet. "I was 85 percent sure I'd (win all three events) today."
While Morrison's performance was impressive, Squalicum and Bellingham both had athletes win state title on the final day of the state meet.
Squalicum's Gina Flint won the discus event with personal record mark of 143-09. She beat the second-place finisher by nearly 20 feet.
"It feels really good, and I got my PR, so it feels even better," Flint said.
Bellingham's 4x100 relay team of Holly Schrock, Chantal Tran, Mary Dyrland and Alyssa Porter won a state title with a special performance the quartet will undoubtedly not soon forget.
The group of Red Raiders finished the relay in a time of 48.33 seconds, which set a new meet record.
"It's my last year, and I couldn't have gotten here without this great group of girls," Schrock said. "This doesn't even feel real."
Blaine's Olivia Olason, Kieya Villars and Kiersten Sigfusson joined Morrison to win the 4x400 relay, as the group set a new meet record with a time of 3:56.59.
"This is so surreal," Olason said. "It's amazing to know we are the fastest team in state in 2A."
In all, five gold medals were handed out to Whatcom County girls' teams or individual, while the Whatcom County boys didn't see the top of the podium Saturday, despite a ton of second-place finishes.
One of main stories heading into the final day of competition was whether or not Sehome could earn a third straight team title, but the Mariners fell just two points shy of back-to-back-to-back title, as Sehome settle for second place with 67 points. North Kitsap placed first with 69 points, Squalicum took home third place with 63 points, Bellingham placed fourth overall with 56 points and Blaine finished fifth with 52 points.
"We're excited said Sehome track and field coach Kevin Ryan. "I'm proud with how we battled adversity and that they came out like they did."
Ryan said Emily Pittis and Madison Heilmann were two athletes who stuck out in his mind as having outstanding meets.
Pittis finished third in the 1600 with a time of 5:05.81, and Heilmann took fourth place in the 800 with a time of 2:17.05.
Hanna Tarleton also had a strong day for the Mariners. She finished second in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 44.92, and also ran a leg in Sehome's winning 4x200 relay team composed of Sarah Dolese, Kendra Thomas, Shannon DeBacker and Tarleton.
"It's so exciting to be able to celebrate this with each other," Tarleton said.
Bellingham also had a number of athletes place in Saturday's events.
In an 100 loaded with top-caliber competition, Porter earned a second-place finish with a time of 12.41. Porter also placed fourth in the 200 with a time of 24.92
Mia Hodges finished third in the 800 meter with a time of 2:16.74, and Bekah Johnson took 12th in the 1600 with a time of 5:21.54.
Squalicum had a pair of standouts on the track Saturday. Brittany Gappa nearly won the 1600, but she was chased down in the final 100 meters and settled for silver medal. She ran a 5:03.47.
And Molly Rider proved hard work pays off, as she earned her first medal during her four-year career.
"I was very happy for Molly," Squalicum coach Ted Flint said. "She is such a hard worker, and she earned her first ever medal today."
Representing Lynden, Kendra Hack earned a seventh-place finish and a spot on the podium with her 47.59 she ran in the 300 meter hurdles.
"I didn't expect to go this far, but I am pleased, and I had a good race," Hack said.
Lynden's 4x400 relay team also placed third with a time of 4:02.56.
Besides the first-place finish in the 4x400 relay, Blaine's Sigfusson also finished second in the 400 with a time of 57.50
"It feels so great," Sigfusson said. "I usually always psych myself out. All year me and Cherish have pushed each other."
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.